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11 Things Every Oyster Lover Needs To Do In Virginia

Prep your lemon wedges. There’s a lot to taste in the oyster capital of the East Coast.

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1. Follow Virginia’s Oyster Trail.

Instagram: @williamsburgwinery

Running through the Old Dominion, the oyster trail highlights a variety of locally owned establishments like restaurants, wineries, and lodgings, as well as cultural sites and art studios. Most uniquely, the trail features behind-the-scenes tours of agri-artisan businesses where you will help sort tasty oysters directly from the cage and pull crab pots.

2. Cruise through Virginia’s River Realm.

Instagram: @virginiasriverrealm

Comprised of eight small towns and 465 miles of shoreline, the River Realm isn’t a kingdom from your favorite fantasy series but an area of Virginia carved through its center by the Rappahannock River. This serene region is ideal for sailing as well as sharing a scenic seafood meal starring — what else — oysters.

3. Sample small plates at Merroir.

Instagram: @ohhhhmo

Taking over their grandfather’s oyster company in 2001, Ryan and Travis Croxton not only set out to revive their business but also all of Chesapeake Bay’s oyster production — and with sustainability in mind. After their success in aquaculture, they opened this much-lauded “tasting room” in 2011, featuring only raw and outdoor-grilled small plates paired with craft brews and award-winning wines and, of course, their famous oysters.

4. Join the festivities at Urbanna Oyster Fest.

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Every fall, Urbanna hosts this celebration of oysters, which includes a shucking contest, craft beer and wine tastings, and a variety of vendors offering oysters in every preparation you can imagine. You can also board traditional vessels and learn about the traditions and heritage of Native Americans and watermen of the Chesapeake Bay as part of this lively festival.

5. Sip and slurp at Wine & Brine Month.

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November is the month to celebrate oysters on the Eastern Shore. As its name suggests, Wine & Brine is all about the vino and bivalves of Virginia. Wine and raw bar tastings, a slew of festivals, and traditional Shore oyster roasts makes this the perfect time to visit Virginia.

6. Dine alfresco and al aqua at Pleasure House.

Instagram: @pleasurehouseoysters

For the freshest oysters you’ll ever have the pleasure of slurping, treat yourself to a private dining experience with the Chef’s Table Tour, complete with a dinner table set up in knee-deep Lynnhaven River waters. The oysters you savor will be harvested before your very eyes.

7. Sail with a real captain on this Watermen’s Heritage Tour.

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Captain Williams Saunders and his trusty sidekick, Rusty, take passengers on the authentic, all-wood Chesapeake Bay deadrise, the Miss Nicole, on scenic charters. Sailing through Carter Creek and the Rappahannock and Corrotoman Rivers, Captain Saunders will cover local history, culture, and fisheries from the unique perspective of an actual working waterman.

8. Get educated at the Oyster Academy.

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If your goal is to elevate yourself from an oyster aficionado to an oyster connoisseur, the Oyster Academy program is a must. Everything from oyster ecology and the oyster industry is covered in this course, as well as a one-hour harvest. You’ll finish up with a very important lesson in shucking oysters and flavor pairings.

9. Paddle around on Ebbing Tides SUP Eco Tour.

Instagram: @ebbingtidesuptours

Take an educational eco tour of Lynnhaven Inlet with a local oceanographer on a stand up paddleboard. As you glide past ospreys and rays, your guide will impart interesting tidbits about the ecology and the wild inhabitants of the tidal marshes in the region.

10. Taste the grapes at Dog & Oyster Vineyard.

Instagram: @virginiaflair

Stop by this winery for a wine cruise (yes, really), a tasting at their “wine stand,” or lunch at their oyster stand. Their award-winning Chardonel and Oyster White are the perfect accompaniment for local oysters. And dogs are welcome both here and at their bed and breakfast, the Hope and Glory Inn up the road, so bring your furry friends along.

11. Get your fill of brews and bivalves at Oyster & Craft Beer Tour.

Instagram: @tastevirginia

For the beer lovers among us, this three-stop tour will satisfy even the most particular of craft brew buffs. You’ll be guided through expertly planned pairings of award-winning craft beers and oysters in all different preparations including raw, stewed, fried, and Rockefeller.

Some of the freshest oysters in the world are waiting for you in Virginia. Come and see how Virginia is for Oyster Lovers.